’We were disappointed with the error rate from some of the individuals’, says Sharks coach after Lions loss
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DURBAN - There can be no question of the Sharks’ effort against the British and Irish Lions last night but at the same time there can be no excusing the plethora of silly errors they made that ensured the score blew out to over 50 points.
One of the patterns of the night was for the Sharks to put together a promising passage of play only to offer the Lions turnover ball courtesy of an unforced effort and next thing the tourists had scored on the counter-attack, inevitably by either Duhan van der Merwe or fullback Josh Adams, both of whom scored hat-tricks.
The 54-7 scoreline at Ellis Park was more or less a reproduction of the local Lions’ loss to the same team in the tour opener last week, where the gulf in class between the sides was conspicuous.
A Covid outbreak in the Lions’ ranks on the morning of kick-off forced them to make eight changes to their team yet they remained composed, patient and, inevitably, ruthless in their finishing.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt said the match had been a learning experience for his youthful charges, and that is an understatement.
“We were disappointed with the error rate from some of the individuals in the team,” Everitt said. “In saying that, I think there is a lot of good to take out of the game. We did put them under pressure, but we just don’t have enough patience with the ball. We need to respect the ball. At this level, when you are playing against international rugby players, there will be consequences for the mistakes that you make.
“One just has to go to the start of the game when we had a couple of try-scoring opportunities only for the passes to be inaccurate,” Everitt continued. “Maybe we could have had 14 points on the board. In trying to hold on to the ball in the opposition half in the second half, we just got a little bit clumsy and paid the price with long-range tries from the turnovers we gave away.
“It’s about us being patient with the ball in hand,” Everitt explained. “At times, when we put the opposition under pressure, we feel like we need to try something a little bit different. But we just need to wear them down a little bit more and have more patience and keep exerting pressure so that we can earn penalties, if not score tries.
“I do think where we were caught out defensively was in our work rate from set-pieces and getting around the corner to set up defensively.”
Everitt said he was pleased with the commitment his team had showed to play at a high tempo, despite going into the break 26-0 down.
“The Lions will know that they were in a game tonight. I spoke to some of their players after the game and they said we put up one hell of a fight. I am not questioning my players’ work rate, effort or physicality. I suppose the errors that they made, they will learn from. At the same time, I have to commend them for the fight they put up for 80 minutes.’